A Streetcar Named Desire: Novel Summary: Scene 4

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The following morning, Stella is serene but Blanche is agitated after a sleepless night. Stanley is out getting the car serviced. Blanche wants to know how Stella could possibly have gone back into the flat and spent the night with Stanley after what happened. But Stella tells her she is making too much fuss about it. She says that Stanley has always smashed things. She speaks about it in a matter-of-fact way that appalls Blanche, who thinks her sister is married to a madman. She tells Stella that she is still young enough to get out of her situation, but Stella says she has no desire to get out. She says people must make allowances for the habits of others. Blanche gets the idea that they must get hold of some money. She tries to call a rich married man named Shep Huntleigh, an old college friend of hers, whom she met recently in Miami. She tells Stella that he could set them up together in a shop. Stella thinks Blanche is being ridiculous, but Blanche insists that she cannot live in the same small apartment as Stanley. She says once more that she has a plan to get them both out, but Stella again replies that she does not want to get out. Stella hints that there is a sexual attraction between her and Stanley that makes up for everything else, but Blanche calls that “brutal desire.” Stella insists that she loves Stanley. In a speech that the returning Stanley overhears, Blanche says that Stanley is common and bestial. He is just like an animal, not even human in his crude manner and desires. Stanley calls out to Stella and then enters. He embraces Stella and grins at Blanche.
Analysis
The scene directions at the beginning clearly show how for Stella, sex has an almost mystical effect. It lifts her to a transcendental realm of peace that follows the satisfaction of desire. Her face is desribed as “serene,” and “her eyes and lips have that almost narcotized tranquility that is in the faces of Eastern idols.” Stella’s comment that “there are things that happen between a man and a woman in the dark—that sort of make everything else seem—unimportant,” also emphasizes this. Blanche does not understand this element of the relationship between her sister and Stanley. She sees only the brutality of Stanley’s behavior and dismisses Stella’s remarks about their fulfilling sex life as no more than animal desire. Blanche has far more pressing desires to pacify—the need for love and security, for example. As later scenes will reveal, these are the needs that have in the past been the motivation behind her own sex life. She is a far more complicated person than her easily satisfied sister.

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